In the present study, we report the analysis of NK cells derived from patients suffering from a rare ovarian cancer histotype of clear cell carcinoma (OCCC) resistant to conventional chemotherapies. We analyzed the phenotype of NK cells derived from peripheral blood (PB) and peritoneal fluid (PF) and evaluated cytotoxic interactions between NK cells and autologous tumor cells (ATC) derived from patients. We provided evidence of impaired degranulation capacity of NK cells derived from patients’ PF in the presence of ATC. Analyzing tumor cell ligands recognized by NK cell receptors, we found that ATC are characterized by an HLA class I phenotype (although the level of HLA-I expression varies among all patients) and by a heterogeneous expression of ligands for activating NK receptors (from normal to decreased expression of some markers). Furthermore, we observed a down-regulation of crucial NK cell activating receptors, primarily DNAX Accessory Molecule-1 (DNAM-1), on tumor-associated NK cells. Based on these results, we propose that this severe lysis defect may be due to both negative interactions between HLA-I-specific inhibitory NK cell receptors/HLA-I molecules and to defective interactions between activating NK receptors and cognate ligands. In conclusion, for the first time, the phenotypic and functional properties of tumor-associated NK cells and their ATC derived from PF of patients with advanced stage of OCCC were characterized. Taken together results indicate altered interactions between NK cells and ATC and shed light on the aggressive mechanisms of this cancer histotype. Further studies on this rare tumor will be helpful to improve and define more effective therapies.
©2020 Society for Leukocyte Biology.